top of page
pag 143 OK.jpg

The Judge, the Jury, the Almost Dead and his Assassin
Dr. Martin Hellmold, Art Historian.

    At first glance the works of Gustavo Díaz Sosa confront us with a mixture of fascination and confusion, and perhaps also amazement and alienation as well. His most recent pieces are large-format canvases with figurative pictorial contents. While it is easy to describe them, their contents are highly complex.

    Dualism is a feature of the young Cuban artist’s oeuvre that can be found on a variety of levels. One can firstly speak of dualism with a view to the technical execution of his works. On the one hand they concern object-like painting that focuses on the picture’s haptic material qualities and a delicate detailed drawing that conveys the contents in a narrative manner. As paintings Díaz Sosa’s works are consequently material-related and powerful, his working process leaves traces behind that physically address the viewer and already unfold their informalist, non-representational impact from a great distance. By contrast, the drawings that appear in these material fields demand being viewed from up close and an intellectual perception that counteracts the body-related gesture of the painting.

    The motifs in his works are likewise marked by dualism. The monumental dominance of seemingly threatening landscapes and architectural prospects, detached from the viewer, are contrasted by the small-scale depiction of the multifarious figurines that are captured in a world of bureaucratic processes between barriers, lines of people and desks or are pursuing means (ladders, paths, gaps in walls) of escape from the labyrinth surrounding them. Finally, the layer of contentual references in which the artist locates his works can also be described as dualistic. There is, on the one hand, an abundance of historical, cultural, artistic and literary references that incidentally also suggests the high quality of the classic training in painting that Gustavo Díaz Sosa received at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana. Biblical scenes such as the Tower of Babel, the exodus of the Israelites or Jacob’s dream of the ladder ascending up to heaven are evoked with equal sovereignty as are such seminal examples of modern literature as Kafka’s “The Trial”, Orwell’s “1984” and Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. The art historical allusions range from Botticelli’s illustrations for Dante’s “Divina Commedia” and the fictional spatial designs of Piranesi’s “Carceri” and Breughel’s Babylon pictures to Romantics like Caspar David Friedrich and William Turner. Díaz Sosa’s apocalyptic desert scenarios recall the nearly uninhabited landscapes of the latter artists that oscillate between peril and sublimity. But his works are not limited to historical quotations. The target as regards contents is, diametrically opposed to this in a dualistic sense, a decidedly contemporary one. His current artist’s statement reads:

    “My last body of work conveys a narrative that denounces class difference and the manipulation of Power. I try to describe a lost, anonymous, global, surrendered and desperate society functioning in a system which presumes to exist as a democracy on a global level. My charachters continue to run towards nowhere looking for doors or exits from the monumental walls that keep them trapped under the burocratic and established rules. […] On this occasion, I use architecture like a tool or a symbol of power. Architecture has always been used to protect man, but also to dominate him. […] Religion, myths, politics have always relied on huge temples in order to confirm man‘s fragility when faced to Power. My intention is to get the viewer to reflect upon these issues […].”

    Accordingly, when Díaz Sosa cites Kafka, Caspar David Friedrich or the biblical Tower of Babel he does not do so out of an interest in history or to illustrate traditional art historical themes but rather because he wants to encourage us to utilize the significance of these works to acquire an understan-ding for our current global situation. His experien-ces as a native of a socialist and bureaucratic state system as well as an immigrant in a European Union country has sharpened his perception for the fact that the world has lost its equilibrium. Gustavo Díaz Sosa’s dualistically shaped working method promi-ses us as viewers the possibility to participate in the recalibration of this imbalance.

Text: Dr. Martin Hellmold, art historian

Translation: Dr. Michael Wolfson

pag 146 copia.jpg
bottom of page